Verified Gross Mass

VGM Meaning: What is VGM or Verified Gross Mass?

On average, through accident or other disaster, the sea claims 1,500 shipping containers each year. And oftentimes the difference between a safe voyage and catastrophe is accurate weight reporting.

That’s why the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations require shipments’ verified gross mass before vessel loading, either as part of the shipping instructions or in a separate communication before the day of departure.

Read on for more information about VGM and how it may impact your business. For further details, visit

Verified gross mass (VGM, for short, sometimes referred to as verified gross weight) is the combined weight of an ocean shipment’s cargo, dunnage and bracing (material used to keep cargo in position in a ship’s hold), plus the tare weight of the container.

As of July 2016, shippers of vessel-bound consignments must provide a VGM prior to shipment.

In regard to AIT customers, if you’re shipping a full container load, you must provide us with the VGM of the container and all of its contents. If you’re shipping less than a container load you must provide the weight of your cargo, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material.

There are two acceptable methods for calculating VGM. Using a calibrated scale, you can either 1) weigh your shipment’s enter sealed container after it has been packed, or you can 2) weigh all the cargo and contents of the container and then add those figures to your container’s tare weight.

You can usually fine the tare weight on the door of the container. If not, visit the steamship line website or contact them by phone.

Please note that the second method is typically not practical for bulk commodity shipments.

To make it easy to declare VGM, AIT is pleased to provide the following VGM declaration form:
VGM Declaration Form (MS Excel)

Accurate gross mass of packed containers is crucial for proper stowage and stacking—thus avoiding container stack collapse and/or overboard losses.

For that reason, packed containers without VGMs may be denied loading onto a ship, and the shipper can be subjected to regulatory fines and penalties. Under the terms of SOLAS, each country is called on to enforce VGM. In the United States, the Coast Guard acts as the VGM enforcement agency.

Get help with all your VGM, sea freight questions

AIT’s international sea freight team is armed with more than four decades of experience and ready to build unique, flexible import, export and shipping solutions that help you grow your organization’s global reach—and bottom line. To learn more about our team, verified gross mass or you specific verified gross weight requirements.

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